South Philly's Cinco de Mayo parade canceled over deportation fears

The Carnaval de Pueblo is modeled after the colorful street fairs that celebrate Mexico's military victories over invading foreign forces.

After immigration raids across the country and reports of White House deportation plans, Philadelphia's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration has been canceled. But this year, after officers from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested hundreds of immigrants in recent weeks regardless of their criminal or legal status, organizers said they were anxious attendees wouldn't feel safe. In previous years, hundreds of carnavaleros, or marchers, have commemorated the historic battle while parading through south Philadelphia in traditional garb.

"Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE", organizer Edgar Ramirez told NBC 10 news, adding that he and the other organizers "did not feel comfortable" holding the event, particularly since many people travel from other states to join the celebration and "we don't want anything to happen to them". "ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that targets aliens indiscriminately". Most recently, officials said last week they arrested 248 foreign nationals in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and DE during targeted enforcement operations. Trump campaigned on a pledge to strengthen enforcement of immigration laws.

"Everyone's pretty much afraid because they're saying that, basically, ICE is just going to come in out of nowhere", Florencia Gonzalez told WCAU.

Organizers said they hope to hold the festival next year.

President Donald Trump's promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants has sown fear in the immigrant community as ICE ramped up enforcement in cities around the country beginning last month.

The six organizers of the Cinco De Mayo celebration made a decision to cancel the event unanimously. For the past 10 years we have been proud to share with our neighbors our tradition.

Walls, an ICE agent with the Philadelphia office, said ICE follows up leads and its enforcement actions are targeted.

Ramirez mentioned concerns among both documented and undocumented immigrants.

  • Larry Hoffman